Strong Women in Bratislava

in 16th International Film Festival Bratislava

by Katharina Dockhorn

Strong women in the search for love and equal rights in a man-dominated world, this topic presented itself as a central theme by the competition program of the 16th Film Festival of Bratislava. Nine debuts or second films of young filmmakers were shown in the capital of Slovakia.

Five films stood out in the selection. Flapping in the Middle of Nowhere (Dap Canh Giua Khong Trung), directed by the young Vietnamese Nguyen Hoang Diep, was supported by the World Cinema Fund of the Berlin Film Festival. In Bratislava the film was honored with the Prize for the Best Director. The men in Huyen’s are life left fearing the responsibilities of having a child and a family. This drama, centered round a pregnant student living in a suburb of modern Hanoi who wants to earn herself money for an abortion with prostitution, observes sensitively the internal disruption facing the difficult decision against the unborn life.
Radically and bravely, Iram Haq tells of the emancipation process of a young Pakistani woman in rich Norway in I Am Yours (Jeg Er Din). Mina is well integrated. She has her own profession, is divorced and a single mother. For her parents, who are firmly rooted in the Pakistani Community, this is already a disaster. Mina tries to deal with the expectations of her parents of a proper family life dominated by the men and their own desire. Finally she realizes her own thoughts and her behavior are still dominated by traditional family values. She must give up her former life. The directorial debut of the famous Pakistani-Norwegian actress is well performed and observes precisely the feelings of Mina. The film received the prize of the international film critics.

The big winner of the festival was Party Girl, a warm and tender portrait of a powerful woman pushing 60. The film won the prize of the best film and Angélique Litzenburger won the best actress. Samuel Theis directed together with Claire Burger and Marie Amachoukeil a warmhearted love letter to his mother living in the German-French border area. Angélique Litzenburger has brought up four children on her own with jobs as cabaret hostess. Her love for men is still intact and she loves the nightlife. One of her clients, a beefy retired mineworker, asks to marry her. He offers a middle-class life. But the attraction of the wild life is stronger than love.

No One’s Child (Nicije Dete) from Serbia unexpectedly came away empty-handed. This strong drama by Vuk Rsumovic is based on true events. In spring 1988 a savage boy was found in the highlands of Bosnia. He spent his first years among wolves and is not able to speak or willing to wear shoes. The film follows his reintegration process in an orphanage in Belgrade for many years. Denis Muric portrays the vulnerability and the shyness of the adolescent magnificently, slowly his stooped position changes to the straight way, laboriously finding a passage from the animal sounds to the first words. At last the boy begins to read. But in 1992 he is forced to go back to Bosnia. He ends up in the bloody civil war in Yugoslavia and in the snowy woods.

The prize of the best actor went to Fabricio Boliveira for his role in Brazilian Western (Faroeste Caboclo), the Brazilian box office hit of the year and big winner of the film award assignment in the native country of director René Sampaio. In an entertaining mixture of western classics, Tarantino and a tragic, romantic love story, he leads us back to the 1980s. The colored outlaw Pablo falls in love with a white senator’s daughter who answers to his feelings. The relationship wakes up the jealousy of the drug baron of the Rio metropolis. Pablo’s small business with the white little powder has been a thorn in his eyes for a long time.  

Edited by Steven Yates